In an earlier write up “Importance of well-being and finance”, I focused on “Finance” and said that I would soon be writing about well-being.
The following are some simple tips on “well-being” for people in the age group 50+ and even for people over 40 or even I would say over 30, especially those burning the “candle” from both ends with their long working hours, irregular eating and sleeping habits.
Let’s start with breathing. All of us need our regular supply of oxygen. Many of us, many times do not breathe enough and sometimes, when we are either excited or neck deep in work, do not momentarily breathe for some time! This sounds crazy and incredulous but very much the truth. Just sit back and think about it. You are in the midst of putting together a presentation for an important client or your Board or for that matter watching an exciting match on television — cricket, tennis, basketball whatever. After a while, you feel breathless and then take long hurried breaths.
The whole idea of Pranayama is to regulate your breathing and exercise the various parts of our body which are involved in breathing. Even if you are not able to do the seven odd Pranayamas, just focusing on emptying your mind of all thoughts and concentrate on steady breathing should be good enough. After a few days/weeks, you can then try out “Brahstrika” Pranayama, i.e. chest breathing wherein you take a deep breath and try and fill your chest/lungs with oxygen, hold just for a few seconds and then exhale. To begin with, do 10 times and then slowly increase the number of counts over the next few weeks.
What I do to regulate my breathing while doing “Brahstrika” is to say “Swamiye” while taking my breath in and “Sharanam Aiyappa” while breathing out. You may like to use your own prayer or other words or not do any of these but just focus on breathing in and breathing out.
Whilst doing breathing exercises or for that matter, any exercises, its strongly advised to do them in an empty stomach.
In one of my subsequent write ups, I shall write about the various Pranayamas I do.
Ideally breathing exercises should be done at least twice a day — once in the morning and once in the evening.
Whilst many experts have written a lot about what to eat, what meal in which season, place etc., my emphasis is on maintaining regular timings and how to eat.
Many people believe in the “7 12 5 & 40″ routine. Some others do variants of this, for instance 8 1 7 & 36” etc.
I am sure I have piqued your curiosity with these random numbers. Lest you, my beloved reader start getting irritated and give up on me, I’ll quickly explain as to what these mean. ‘7’ refers to breakfast at 7 am, ’12’ to lunch at 12 noon and ‘5’ to dinner at 5 pm and ’40’ to chewing every morsel 40 times. The other set of numbers are variants of this.
Jains for instance typically do not eat after sunset, and in many ways following such timings. South Indians, especially Tamilian Brahmins used to have their full meal by 8-8.30 am, have a light meal (typically curd rice because of the extreme heat) at around 12.30 pm, “tiffin” at 4.30 pm (Idli or Dosa etc) and a light supper at 7-7.30 pm. Westerners too, including Australians, pretty much follow variants of this system.
The whole idea is to give sufficient time for the stomach to digest the food and by the time you go to bed, your food gets fully digested and you go to bed feeling light. Chewing sufficient number of times makes it easier for the stomach to digest the food and in the process, you unknowingly end up eating a lesser quantity. As it is, when we are growing old, food is required to preserve the body, organs etc and not for growing as such. Of course, eating wrong food at the wrong time and too much quantity results in â€˜x axis’ expansion — the stomach starts protruding!
Another extremely important component of well-being is sufficient sleep. Around 6 to 7 hours is typically mentioned as the minimum needed for a human being. There are of course exceptions to this who are still seemingly very healthy, typical examples being Rishi Munis. However, for a typical city dweller, this is not the right example as these evolved souls have been able to survive and indeed thrive with less sleep after many, many years of meditation, tough daily routine etc.
You owe it to yourself (and your family) that your body gets proper rest and the cells time to get rejuvenated. And during sleep, your breathing too is typically better — a regular, steady pattern.
Daily walk of at least 30 minutes in a nearby park or along the sea coast is pretty much a must. Walking is the best and most easily sustainable form of exercise.
Those who have an active life by playing some games like tennis, badminton etc., or cycling, swimming, doing exercises or going to the gym feel a lot better mentally as well with the negative toxins blown away.
Live in the moment
Apart from all the above — breathing, eating, sleeping, active life style, all of which are important — living in the moment is very important. Many a times, our mind strays into the past or speculates about the future. One needs to constantly tell one’s mind to stay in the present, in the moment. We are living now, the past having already gone and cannot be changed or retrieved and the future not happening till its time.
Live in the moment and enjoy it — be it reading the newspaper, morning walk, going to the market to buy vegetables or household stuff etc.
When we watch an exciting cricket or tennis match or any sport for that matter or when we are watching a movie or reading a book which keeps our mind fully engaged, our mind automatically gets fully engrossed in it and we neither reminisce about the past or worry about the future. It is this we need to get into practice in everything we do.
The greatest of sportsmen — Federer, Dravid, Kohli etc — consciously work on living the moment, not worried about the point or ball already over — and look at their spectacular results. They too have managed to successfully to do so after much practice and, In some cases, by doing Yoga.
I have taken you through some very simple, every day steps, to maintain and improve your well-being. Please do feel free to give your views, feedback on what I have shared with you. I for one try and follow all the above and have succeeded to a fair extent, with still a lot of scope for improvement.